The B.C. government is about to come up with a compromise solution to the smart-meter issue.
News reports late last week said Energy Minister Bill Bennett plans to allow those opposed to electrical smart meters to opt out of the program.
The catch is they'll have to pay to cancel their high-tech devices, but
given their strong views against the meters, that's a price worth paying.
BC Hydro has been installing smart meters in homes across the province. Fortis BC hopes to win approval to do the same thing in its service area.
The meters transmit usage data wirelessly to the electrical companies. They also allow people to better monitor their own electrical usage.
It's the wireless aspect that has opponents declaring these units are a danger to their health - and they won't be budged from that position.
To say opponents feel strongly about smart meters is an understatement. A Peachland family had its power cut off when they removed a Hydro smart meter and installed their own dumb meter. A Hope man was arrested for making a bomb threat when his meter was installed.
Recognizing the no-win nature of forcing smart meters on everyone and prodded by the Opposition, which months ago came up with the position no one should be forced to take a smart meter who doesn't want one, the governing BC Liberals have been dropping hints a compromise was coming.
Bennett said there will be costs to opting out and having meters read manually, and said those who refuse the meters should be the ones paying the costs. That's reasonable.
Some smart-meter opponents may balk at the extra cost, but essentially, they're getting their way.
They've won their case - they don't have to have smart meters.
Those of us who aren't bothered by the new meters can still have them.
The sooner the government implements this compromise, the sooner this unpleasant debate can be put
- City Editor Pat Bulmer